Leadership can be defined as the process of achieving a set goal through the use of human direction in achieving this (Prentice, 1961). A successful leader is the one who considers both the managerial members together with the minor stakeholders in achieving the goals set by the institution. Employees mainly prefer a democratic leadership whereby they are allowed to express themselves to the managerial team and can be effectively listened to (Prentice, 1961).).
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Leadership is well explained by theories which includes leader-member exchange theory of leadership, transactional leadership, transformational leadership, charismatic leadership including many others. Each of this theories applies its own managerial principles which are totally different from others.
Leadership plays an important role in the pursuit of achieving the set goals that are set by the organization. Both the managerial team and the junior workers plays an important role in the process of leading the organization to achieving the set goals. It is described as one of the most multifaceted and complex phenomena which has been applied by the psychological as well as organizational research (Burns, 1978). Leadership can be examined in terms of set of styles of leadership that are being employed in the leadership process, presumed cognitive processes as well as the terms of enduring traits.
In present world, employees have become much educated and more skilled than before. There is need for involving them in decision making process since they have the required knowledge, both managerial and also technical and thus their involvement in decision making is much important and can much influence achieving of the set goals. The process of involving employees in the sharing of duties and also making decisions concerning the organization can be used as a motivation process in today’s world. This makes the employees feel being part of the management team and thus they commit all their skills to the organization which makes it to achieve its set objects.
Leader-member exchange theory of leadership
This is the most appropriate leadership theory in our present world as both the leaders and the workers are involved in the decision making concerning the organization. The relationship between the managers and the employees is a key factor that influences the success of the organization (Bass, 1990). The managers are referred to as the leaders while the employees are the followers. As we know, employees have different levels of capabilities as well as commitment to the duties that are being assigned to them. Leaders always will tend to have a good and close relationship with employees who seems to be committed to their duties and to those that are delivering exactly what is expected of them without having to be forced or closely supervised as they undertake their duties (Higgs, 2003).
Depending on the commitment of the employees to the organization, leaders can classify their followers into two categories that includes the in-group followers and the out-group followers (Graen & Cashman, 1975). The in-group members are mainly those employees that are loyal, trustworthy, committed to their duties and those that are well skilled with high capability of handling the duties that are assigned to them (Fiedler, 1964). Leaders will always tend to be close to such employees. The manager trust much the members of this group (King, 1990). Managers always have high attention to this group of employees, they even offer opportunities for additional training, they always providing challenging but interesting duties to them, and the managers always create a lot of time with this group (Fiedler, 1964). Modern means of management are computerized to reduce manpower cost and also to increase efficient. Managers will like to have employees who are personal driven and those who need little attention in order to carry out their duties. Managers will tend to avoid employees who are incompetent, low capacity to carry out their duties, those who are lazy, those who are very sensitive to work closing hours and those who cannot sacrifice their resources for the sake of the organization.
The out-group members are mainly made up of the followers who betrays the trust of the manager to them or those that have already proved that they are lacking motivation or they are incompetent (Bass, 1990). The group work assigned to these employees is less challenging and high restricted as compared to that which is assigned to the in-group members (Lewin et al., 1939). They tend to have limited access to the managers and also the chances for advancement are also limited. This group also needs keen monitoring as they undertake their duties since they are not motivated enough to be self-driven. The presence management system does not favor this group of employees as they need keen monitoring as they undertake their duties.
The outgroup members may start to dislike and distrust their employees as they may not be in peace with them due to their unpleasing behaviors of handling duties. The members of this group may be forced to change department or even organization because once the leaders know that you are incompetent in the way that you handle your duties, it may be hard for one to prove it wrong to the employer. Leaders need to classify the employees in this two groups before they start working with them so as to make the management activities easier.
Role making process is process that is functionally dependent on both the employees and employers. Leaders and followers have to agree on how the leadership process would be done so as to make sure that a good and conducive management process exist between the employer and the employee (King, 1990). Any role making process can be used in the process of describing the development of both relationship norms as well as interlocked behavior between each of their members (Graen & Cashman, 1975). The early stage interactions between the leaders and followers can determine the likely nature of the emergent leadership structure. Majority of the employees will be members of outgroup and the only selected members will belong to in-group.
Some subordinate managers may even belong to the outgroup members according to the level in which they commit themselves to the managerial duties of the organization. Generally, outgroup members receive lower performance ratings and face many problems with their supervisors as compared to the members of the in-group (Graen & Cashman, 1975). In-group members majorly have strong ties with their employers as compared to those that exist between the employers and outgroup. Ideas given by the members of in-group to the leaders are more valued than those given to the employers by the members of out-group as they are seen to be incompetent and of low knowledge and capability.
Leaders will prefer in-group employees to out-group employees so as to reduce the increased managerial task that the outgroup members may demand from the managers. This theory explains well how the present world can be well placed with this leadership theory.
Research supporting leader-member exchange theory
In the process of describing this theory, two important assumptions are made. The first assumption is that some interlocked behaviors has to be shaped and this started early back in the history of this theory (Higgs, 2003). The second assumption was that some relationship between leader and follower has to be developed carefully over an extended period of time (Higgs, 2003). The two participants have to gain mutual trust between one another. The study that was carried out in the approval of this theory involved sixty managers who were undergoing complete reorganization (King, 1990). Almost 90 percent of the reporting relationships had at least one new member as almost 50 percent of the managers were in new positions and one third of the managers were in new organization (Lewin et al., 1939). The theory of leader-member exchange was studied for a period of more than one month. The results that were obtained from this formed a consistency network of reliable relationships (King, 1990). Routine is done by leaders by developing an in-group exchange with only selected few members and also out-group with the rest of the group members. The in-group members receive more unit involvement activities and also greater positional resources from the employers as compared to the one received by the out group members (Burns, 1978).
It was then observed that leaders of managerial units responded with manners which in one way or another served to differentiate their unit during times when faced with the task of new working relationships with the majority of the members that they lead (Burns, 1978). Leaders attempted to form special interaction groups with some of the subordinate managers and this transcended the formal employment contract.
How race, gender and power can influence the effectiveness of leader-member theory
Race plays a major impact on the effectiveness of the leadership. In many cases especially a white man, white people are considered more special than the black people and thus this is a form of discrimination. Race leads to the creation of respect between the leaders and followers and this plays an important role in how the relationship between the leader and the followers is created (Higgs, 2003). The fact that people of different races may not know each other well will mean that respect between the two individuals will exist. This then leads to the achievement of the set goals since both the leader and the follower will play his or her role effectively with due respect. However, in cases where there is racial discrimination between the leader and employees, a good relationship is likely not to develop and thus the effectiveness of leader-member exchange theory may be reduced (Fiedler, 1964). Leader-member exchange theory relies much on the relationship of the leader and follower and thus for the effectiveness of this theory, a good relationship between the leader and follower is very important.
Leadership power is very important in the process of making this theory to be effective. In this theory, the leaders need to effectively use their powers well since the theory encourages a good relationship between the leader and follower, some of the followers, especially members of in-group may decide to use that close relationship with the leader for their personal gains (French & Raven, 1959). This will make leadership effective and thus there is need for the leaders of keep their level of interaction with the employees with a gap so as to make sure that effective leadership is maintained. Too much good relationship between the leaders and the followers may lead to lack of respect between the two stakeholders and this may lower the effectiveness of this theory (Bass, 1985).
Gender plays also an important role in making this theory effective. Men are good in employing this leadership theory. Gender plays an important part of leadership. There should be no sexual discrimination in the place of work as this will make the theory less effective. This theory, when properly employed can lead to the organization achieving all of its set goals in an easier way. The relationship between the leader and the follower is much important and needs to be well maintained.
Leadership plays an important role in the pursuit of the organization to achieve its set objectives. A good relationship between the managers and the junior staff is very important as this will make the employees to be committed to their duties so as to achieve the success of the company. The process of involving employees in the decision making makes them feel to be valued and part of the organization which then makes them to commit themselves to the organization activities thus achieving the goals of the company. Leader-member exchange theory is a reliable leadership theory that can lead the company to achieving great in its management and also set goals.
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